Non-derivational approach to ditransitive constructions in MSA

Reem Alsadoon


In 2002, Harley adopted the non-derivational approach in analyzing English double objects construction (DOC) and double complement (DC). This paper aims to apply the same approach to Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) ditransitive structures. The following is an example of such a structure in MSA:


(1)      a. Ɂaʕta           al-muʕlam-u           al-taalib-a              kitaab-an

Gave-3ms     the-teacher-nom    the-student-acc      book-acc

‘The teacher gave the student a book’

b. Ɂaʕta        al-muʕlam-u      kitaab-an   li              al-taalib-i

Gave3ms  the-teacher-nom book-acc   Dat prep the-student-gen

‘The teacher gave a book to the student’


In this paper, I argue for Harley’s non-derivational approach to DOC and DC in MSA. Harley proposes that DOC and DC constructions have different underlying representations. The DOC construction has an abstract verb head CAUSE which takes a prepositional possessive structure headed by an abstract possessive preposition, Phave. The DC has the same CAUSE head but here it takes a prepositional locative structure headed by an abstract locative preposition, Ploc.

The paper shows that Harley’s approach can be applied to MSA DC and DOC constructions without any problems. I applied the same analyses used in Harley’s paper for English DC and DOC which include animacy restriction, the inability of idioms to shift from a DOC to DC, and the asymmetric c-command relationships. The results of my analysis support the use of this approach in MSA.


Syntax, Ditransitive constructions, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), and Non-derivational approach

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Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle

EISSN: 1920-440X
ISSN: 1200-3344

University of Victoria